From:                                                                           Lisa Mighetto <>

Sent: Tuesday, July 5, 2016 12:40 PM


Subject:                                                                       ASEH News Summer 2016



aseh news

summer 2016                      volume 27, issue 2


update on Chicago conference 2017

Proposals for panels and roundtables are due July 8, 2016. Click here for information on submitting a proposal.

Dates of conference: March 29 - April 2, 2017

Location: Drake Hotel, located in downtown Chicago on the shores of Lake Michigan

Host: University of Illinois-Chicago


To reserve a room at the hotel click here. The hotel rate is $179/night, and there are a limited number of discounted rooms ($139/night) available for students.

Our 2017 conference will include the following events:

  • workshop on Engaging the Community and Archives Through Local History, Newberry Library
  • field trips to Newberry Library, Field Museum, Brookfield Zoo, Indiana Dunes, walking tour along Chicago River, boat tour exploring Chicago River, and more
  • 40th-anniversary celebration, including special sessions featuring ASEH founding scholars
  • large exhibit area
  • poster presentations
  • 100 sessions 

Indiana Dunes.

The boat tour at our conference will explore Chicago's built environment and its many architectural styles, including the Wrigley building and Tribune Tower pictured above.

Above: Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park, downtown Chicago.


Above: Famous "bean" sculpture in Millennium Park, downtown Chicago.

Above: Picasso sculpture in downtown Chicago.

Navy Pier, near conference hotel.

Route 66 begins in downtown Chicago.

Fountain in Millennium Park, downtown Chicago.

Our conference will include a tour of the Field Museum (pictured above).


travel grants


A limited number of travel grants will be available for students and low-income scholars presenting at our 2017 conference. Once the program committee selects the sessions and creates the program, we will contact presenters will more info., including how to apply.

Water taxi on Chicago River.




future conferences



March 29-April 2, 2017


Riverside, CA

March 14-18, 2018


If you are interested in submitting a proposal to host a future ASEH conference, contact for guidelines. ASEH will be selecting our 2019 and 2020 conference sites this fall.




Click here for information on the July issue of our journal

Environmental History, which includes articles on whale meat in Japan, shrimp and petroleum in Louisiana, a gallery piece on drawing dead fish, and more.


have you signed up for aseh's member directory?


ASEH's Digital Communications Committee has created an online directory of members. Any member can register on this new site, which is publicly available to anyone searching for contact info. on environmental historians and their research. The site is open for registration and viewing.


We encourage all ASEH members to register. If you have questions or comments, contact


Click here to register. Thank you for your participation!



aseh summer internships


Congratulations to the recipients of our 2017 summer internships: Madison Heslop (mobile app development project) and Rachel Lanier Taylor (research on national park funding project). Both are students at the University of Washington and both projects take place in Seattle.


aseh news


Published quarterly by the American Society for Environmental History. If you have an article, announcement, or an item for the "member news" section of our next newsletter, send to 
by September 9, 2016. 



Chicago River and Lake Michigan.


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president's column: how do environmental historians engage contemporary debates?


In columns last year I addressed how some world leaders have approached the subject of climate change, from Pope Francis's encyclical to the silence at the Republican presidential debate held in drought-stricken California. While many members of the public have grown more concerned about this issue, neither climate change nor any other environmental matter has captured much attention in the circus that defines American politics in 2016. 

The tragic death of Harambe at the Cincinnati zoo reminds us, however, of the myriad complex relations humans have maintained with their environments and the other creatures that inhabit them. Some experts promote the educational value of well-designed zoos and the role they can play in imparting principles of conservation, particularly to children. Others question the morality of "imprisoning" animals with whom humans share substantial genetic connections and the efficacy of captive breeding programs, wondering whether such programs bear any relation to the extinction challenges primates face in the wild.

As we know, the planet faces the greatest extinction crisis since the dinosaurs vanished some 65 million years ago. The loss of some species, at a rate of one to five per annum, is a natural phenomenon. Current extinction rates are at least 1,000 times higher. The Center for Biological Diversity reports that perhaps 7 to 18 percent of U.S. flora and fauna are endangered. The International Union for Conservation of Nature has found that 38 percent of assessed species across the globe are threatened with extinction. Human actions drive this calamity through the loss of habitat, the introduction of exotic species, and climate change, among other factors.

According to the IUCN, all wild apes are endangered or critically endangered, with poaching and bushmeat trading joining habitat destruction as underlying causes. The relatively few times that the media addresses biodiversity generally involve the loss of or threats to mammals. For example, The Guardian and other sources recently reported on the disappearance of the Bramble Cay melomys, a small rodent and the Great Barrier Reef's only endemic mammal species. Queensland officials identify this as the first extinction of a mammal in the world primarily attributable to human-induced climate change. However, while less likely to be discussed, the contemporary extinction crisis involves birds, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates that are no less essential to the resilience of ecosystems.

Whether the issue is climate change, loss of biodiversity, environmental justice, the celebration of the National Park Service Centennial, or recent legislation to strengthen the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, environmental historians have much to contribute to society's understanding of these matters. We have many avenues of influence in addition to our published scholarship. For those in the academy, the classroom affords the opportunity to influence new generations of thinkers. Those who work in public history positions reach multiple audiences in venues ranging from wildlife refuges to courtrooms. Environmental historians can have profound impacts on environmental and natural resource law through their work as expert witnesses. And our skills can facilitate the clean-up of contaminated sites as Lisa Meoli explains below.

With op-ed pieces or through other media channels, environmental historians can provide the necessary context as well as a sense of contingency and a sequence of causality for the complex issues facing our planet. For example, Jeff Hyson, an ASEH member and a historian at St. Joseph's University, made important contributions to a Washington Post story ( on the implications of Harambe's death for the critically endangered species. In fact, ASEH maintains a directory ( of members and research specialties for those interested in greater media engagement. Click here if you are a member and would like to sign up. 

And, as always, I welcome any questions or suggestions about how we can improve ASEH. Please contact me at


Kathy Brosnan, ASEH President



the profession: environmental history at work
by Lisa Meoli, graduate student, Arizona State University

Not only does environmental history inform the work we do as historians in academia but it also serves a very useful role in environmental site assessment (ESA). ESAs are completed to identify potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. Environmental consultants work on contaminated sites that often have complex manufacturing histories leading to multiple sources of contamination in various media, such as soil, groundwater, and sediment. The environmental history of a site becomes an important guide during all phases of work on a contaminated site, from remedial investigations and identification of responsible parties to remedy development and cleanup.

Tracing the historical use of a property is key to identification of source areas and major contributors of contamination. Historical research builds complete narratives using contextual knowledge of a specific contaminated site to relate history in a factually-objective, reliable, and credible way. Researching historical land use and ownership, waste handling and disposal practices, and typical industrial practices during different decades leads to informed cost allocation by identified responsible parties for cleanup of a contaminated site. Site histories also allow us to better understand fate and transport of contaminants, identification of waste and product streams, and allocation of liability.

Sanborn map (created for fire insurance purposes) showing historical operations at the former Peninsula Plywood Corporation facility and General Petroleum Corporation - including location of tanks - in Port Angeles, Washington

Some historical sources used to assist our research in understanding industrial processes and potential contamination sources include historical maps, and aerial and oblique photographs. We also research the archives for corporate documents, title documents, facility and production records, and documents from enforcement agencies. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is also a key component of historical research for data organization and visualization. GIS data is used to manage and integrate historical resources for projects which allows us to present historical evidence in geographical context, conveys geographic changes over time, assess patterns in historical data over a period of time, and provides a good narrative from a geohistorical perspective.

My career began as an archaeologist for a small environmental

Photograph used to document shoreline and land use changes over time and historical operations in the uplands. Commercial Point in Bellingham, Washington before placement of fill in 1932. 


consulting firm in Chicago. While I loved archaeology, I became more interested in the environmental aspect of consulting and morphed into a scientist role. Because the environmental field is so multi-faceted, it has allowed me to combine both history and science to my current role at Floyd|Snider as an environmental historian. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is that the use of site history doesn't stop with environmental cleanup. In many cases, site history is used for public outreach and policy development by regulators which has far reaching implications for successful site remedy and cleanup.

Lisa Meoli is an environmental historian at Floyd|Snider in Seattle, Washington with over 15 years of experience providing technical support in historical and litigation research and environmental investigation. She is currently working on her Master's Degree in Public History at Arizona State University.



member news


Frederick "Fritz" Davis has been appointed to the R. Mark Lubbers Chair in the History of Science in the Department of History at Purdue University. He will spend the academic year (2016-17) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong as a Fulbright Fellow.


Ryan O'Connor was awarded the Ontario Historical Society's 2015 J.J. Talman Award for The First Green Wave: Pollution Probe and the Origins of Environmental Activism in Ontario (UBC Press, 2014).

The Talman Award recognizes the best book on Ontario's social, economic, political, or cultural history published in the past three years. 


Adam Rome is moving from the University of Delaware to the State University of New York at Buffalo, where his wife, Robin Schulze, now is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. 





Final Notice - Call for Proposals for ASEH's 2017 Conference in Chicago

Join us in Chicago in 2017! Proposals for panels and roundtables are due July 8, 2016. Click here for more information, including instructions for submitting proposals.


ASEH Award Submissions Due           

ASEH presents awards for scholarship, service, and achievement. These include prizes for best book, article, dissertation, and more. The deadline for this year's award submissions is November 18, 2016. For a list of awards and instructions on how to submit, click here.


ASEH Fellowship Applications Due

The Samuel Hays Fellowship is open to practicing historians (academic, public, or independent). Graduate students are ineligible. A Ph.D. is not required. Deadline: November 18, 2016. Click here for submission instructions.

Students enrolled in any Ph.D. program worldwide are eligible to apply for the Hal Rothman Fellowship. Deadline: November 18, 2016. Click here for submission instructions.


ASEH Seeks Your Help in Publicizing New Fellowship

At the Seattle meeting, the diversity committee proposed and the executive committee approved the Equity Graduate Student Fellowship. This fellowship recognizes a graduate student from an underrepresented group for his or her achievements in environmental history and provides $1,000 for Ph.D. research and travel. Students must be members of ASEH at the time of their application. For more information, please see


We ask all members to assist the Society by circulating information about the fellowship and identifying viable candidates for it. The deadline is November 18, 2016.


Call for ASEH Ephemera: Help Build ASEH's Virtual Archive

In anticipation of ASEH's 40th anniversary, we are seeking documents, images, photographs, and objects related to the organization's history. If you would have an item to share, please e-mail a digital version to, along with a description of the item. You could also mail an item to the following address:

Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, 1900 Commerce, Tacoma, WA 98402

We can scan it and return it to you. Note: we already have copies of the first issue of the journal and the first conference program.


Call for Papers: Not Just White, Not Just Green: Race, Justice, and Environmental History, eds Traci Brynne Voyles and Mary E. Mendoza 

Race is an underexplored but critical component to the study of environmental history. This collection seeks to incorporate deep thinking about the ways in which intersectional experiences of race, gender, sexuality, and class have shaped human relationships with nature in the past. If you are interested in contributing to this anthology, please send a 500-word abstract to by August 15, 2016 or, for more information and the full CFP please go to:


Position Open: Assistant Professor at Swathmore College

Tenure track assistant professor position available in modern Europe, with environmental history specialty. Deadline for application: October 1, 2016. For more information, see:



reflections on aseh's first internship

by Rachel Jacobson, graduate student, North Carolina State University


With the conclusion of my internship with ASEH I am happy to report that I have learned a great deal and have made some interesting connections with several organizations. I became more involved with the ASEH and have gained a historical familiarity with the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB). The internship was an archival project processing the papers from the foundational years of the SCB, which include records of conservation biologists' involvement in public policy. As an intern I worked as a nomad, starting in the executive office of the SCB in Washington, DC, working from my school campus in Raleigh, NC, participating in a roundtable 

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

discussion in Seattle, WA and finishing the experience at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.


The opportunity to work on sorting through the conservation biology records at the SCB's executive office was unique because much of the time archival work is done in a research repository, distanced from the donors and creators of the archival material. Another unique aspect of this opportunity for me was the chance to participate in the ASEH annual conference in Seattle. My role assisting my supervisors in creating an archival management program for the SCB provided useful  experience and allowed me to participate in a panel about environmental history archives.


The SCB has information on the field of conservation biology that could be essential to the research of environmental historians. Many nonprofit organizations possess valuable records that could benefit environmental historians and their interdisciplinary teams. I was thankful for this internship and the opportunity to work with with Kate Christen of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Zoe Nyssa, the Ziff Environmental Fellow at Harvard. 



for graduate students


Invitation to Join Graduate Student Caucus


The ASEH grad student caucus organizes events, conference sessions, workshops, career seminars, and more. If you would like to join and participate, e-mail ASEH Graduate Student Liaison Rachel Gross at


aseh news is a publication of the American Society for Environmental History


Kathleen Brosnan, University of Oklahoma, President

Graeme Wynn, University of British Columbia, Vice President/President Elect
Mark Madison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Treasurer
Jay Taylor, Simon Fraser University, Secretary

Executive Committee:

Sarah Elkind, San Diego State University

Emily Greenwald, Historical Research Associates, Inc.-Missoula

Christof Mauch, Rachel Carson Center-Munich

Kathy Morse, Bowdoin College

Cindy Ott, University of St. Louis
Ellen Stroud, Bryn Mawr College 
Paul Sutter, University of Colorado

Ex Officio, Past Presidents:

John McNeill, Georgetown University

Gregg Mitman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ex Officio, Editor, Environmental History
Lisa Brady, Boise State University

Ex Officio, Executive Director and Editor, aseh news:
Lisa Mighetto, University of Washington-Tacoma

Graduate Student Liaison: Rachel Gross, University of Wisconsin-Madison


ASEH, UW Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program, 1900 Commerce Street, Tacoma, WA 98402



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